A Technology and Lifestyle Newsletter.
Published Periodically Since 1999
June 2007 Edition (Volume: 9 Issue: 3)
June 1, 2007
I want to dedicate this issue to the young and the “young at heart.” Throughout the 10 years that I have provided computer consulting services in central Connecticut, some of my most memorable experiences have come when working with “active adults” (age 55+) and teenagers.
I won’t ever forget the smiles I’ve helped create on grandparents’ faces who found a new dimension in retirement living by learning how to use a personal computer. A PC in the home of a “golden citizen”, provides a meaningful diversion after a round of golf, a chance to communicate (affordably) with a distant friend on a regular basis, a means to continue learning – the life process that should never cease, and most importantly a chance to catalog shop without buying gas, getting stuck in traffic or listening to annoying salespeople.
A lot of my experiences with teenagers do not belong in my corporate wall of fame or digital scrapbook. The scrap heap or the recycle bin is a more fitting spot for these scenarios. My mind travels back to a cold winter night when America Online was still regarded with the same pleasantries as Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Two very loving parents called me because their desktop PC had slowed down to a snail’s pace. “Kevin I just don’t understand it,” they said. “Can you check and see why our Internet browser is so slow?”
Well…..I did and they were SHOCKED at the reason why!!
Here is an important lesson for all who don’t know this already. Your computers save files on your hard drive when you browse the Internet. This data contains website graphics, passwords, and other common information about you. These files can have their upside , but they do save a record of nearly every click you make. In the Internet Explorer browser, you have to manually erase “temporary Internet files” and “cookies” when you clear them out. I’ve talked at length about the advantages of the Firefox browser in the past, but one of its strengths is that it can delete the crumbs you leave behind automatically.
Back to memory lane and the slow PC…..
I’m going to try to say this diplomatically… When I looked through the temporary Internet files that 12 year old Johnny had been browsing, we found evidence of multiple websites focused on the theme of “leather goods” and the games that adults, who aren’t horse trainers or cowboys, play with them. I had to pick Mommy’s jaw up off the floor and re-attach it after she saw this debauchery. I deleted all the files, and did my best to child-proof the computer. Keeping kids safe online was not as easy 6 or 7 years ago. Johnny hemmed and hawed, because he thought these restrictions were a punishment. That was just the beginning. Later on, when Daddy caught wind of what happened, Johnny learned the true meaning of “raw hide.”
In this edition of “The Acronym,” I will share websites, applications, computer models, and gadgets that I believe can be very useful to the elders among us.
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Update: I kept a promise that I made to you in the April edition of “The Acronym.” Shortly before the Easter holiday, I donated the proceeds from one client visit to the Town That Cares fund here in West Hartford, CT to be used for our food pantry.
Public Service Announcement:
Even though summer is almost here, there are still many families in our communities that go without adequate food. Students are home for the summer and not receiving the benefit of subsidized lunch programs that feed them during the school year. Help a needy family directly, if you know of one. If not, your town probably runs or is affiliated with a food pantry that you can contribute to. Additionally, larger organizations such as America’s Second Harvest, The Salvation Army, and Operation Blessing also do a wonderful job of aiding those whose only want is a hot meal. Furthermore, I know these 3 charities are good stewards of the funds that are entrusted to them. I challenge you to make an effort to help the hungry in the coming weeks.
Published periodically since 1999
Next issue: August 2007
The Acronym is distributed to readers throughout Connecticut and the world on a bi-monthly basis. The Internet version
(http://theacronym.com) includes exclusive online updates. Our reader demographic includes: retirees, students, corporate professionals, small business owners, an others — encompassing the entire spectrum of the computer literacy scale. If you would be interested in advertising in a future edition of The Acronym please contact us by e-mail. You are welcome to pay for a voluntary subscription at an annual rate of $12.
Digital Treasure Chest: Resources and Innovations for the Young at Heart
Your old ‘63 Corvair Monza convertible has rolled up to the curb. That rear engine is running and I’m driving. Hop in, buckle your seat belt, and enjoy the ride…… We’re going to cruise down Interstate 2007 – Information Superhighway.
** Did you just retire?? Can’t bear to wait in line to apply for Social Security benefits. No problem. If you have a computer, you can cut to the front of the line. All the information you need can be found on http://www.ssa.gov
You can submit all of your paperwork electronically in a very simple, straight forward set up. If they require any documents from you, they will provide you with the appropriate address.
**Are you already enjoying your retirement, but want to monitor your Social Security account online. Visit http://www.ssa.gov/onlineservices/
If you don’t already have one, click ‘Get a password’ and a temporary password will be sent to you in the mail (not e-mail) in about 2 weeks. From there you will be able to go back to this website, and create a permanent one.
**Interested in basic banking and financial information? Want to know the best CD rates and loan rates? Check out http://www.bankrate.com. It is an invaluable resource, in my opinion.
** You probably have a need to type simple letters from time to time, but don’t like the hassle of opening up a complex application like Word. No problem. Create a free account with Google Documents & Spreadsheets. http://docs.google.com
It’s easy to do, and you’ll be able to start typing a document in a matter of minutes. Google has plenty of storage space!! Your files will be saved online inside your Google Docs account.
**Have you never really gotten into using e-mail? Are complex e-mail programs frustrating? Your best bet would be to create a free web-mail account from a reliable provider. You will be able to compose your email right inside your web browser. My top picks for you are 1) Gmail – http://www.gmail.com , 2) Yahoo Mail – http://mail.yahoo.com, and 3) AOL – http://webmail.aol.com
**Do you want to create a simple website for yourself so you can interact with your friends and family in one convenient location — the Internet. I would never point my customers toward that waste dump known as MySpace. Stay away from the riffraff and establish your web presence on Facebook.com, a much classier alternative to DisGrace (aka MySpace). If super squeaky clean is what you are looking for, try Xianz.com – Christian Social Fellowshipping site.
**Is a new car in your plans for you this year? Would you like to read about cars so that you can compare models and sort fact from fiction before you step into the dealership? Edmunds.com is for you. I am not a “car person” or a mechanical person, but this website is one of my favorites. You can research new vehicles and used models back to 1990. Comprehensive model reviews are available along with Edmunds trademark valuation system, known as TMV (True Market Value). Don’t get stuck paying MSRP or taking a petty discount. See what buyers are truly paying for that model in your area.